By TIM ROWDEN
PRIDE of St. Louis, the construction labor-management group, held its annual construction awards luncheon Sept. 13 at the new Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 headquarters in St. Louis.
State Sen. Timothy Green (D-Spanish Lake), a member of IBEW Local 1, received the Dick Mantia Labor Award for outstanding service to the construction industry.
Green, who is retiring this year due to term limits after 24 years in the state legislature, was instrumental in stopping right-to-work (for less) and anti-prevailing wage legislation in the Missouri Senate.
“Without all the hard work and dedication that Tim has given us throughout his time in Jefferson City, there is no doubt in my mind we would have possibly lost the prevailing wage and be living in a right-to-work state,” Tom McNeil, business manager of Iron Workers 396 and PRIDE vice president, said in presenting the award.
A 30-year active member of IBEW 1, Green followed his father into the trade and is president of the Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council.
In accepting the award, Green reviewed some of the battles labor has had to fight in the legislature over the last few years and warned of an ongoing assault on unionized construction trades, an assault by non-union contractors, big money political donors and the extreme right-wing in the legislature that runs counter to everything labor does for its members, retirees and the state.
“The last eight years we have held the line in a complete assault on our industry, an industry that statewide yearly puts out $80 million in apprenticeship programs, $900 million a year in healthcare statewide, pays out $300 million a year in pensions to their retirees, and over the last 10 years has invested union pension funds in the amount of $1.2 billion in the state of Missouri,” Green said.
“The leadership in both the House and Senate has and will continue to attack this industry in the coming years. They will continue to pursue elimination of the prevailing wage and outlaw project labor agreements,” Green said.
“You are a great industry, and for anyone with a little common sense, an easy industry to defend, but when simple accusations are leveled in opposition, followed by massive campaign contributions, the defense becomes more difficult,” Green said, noting that his likely successor, Gina Walsh, a member of Insulators and Asbestos Workers Local 1 and the Democratic candidate for the Missouri Senate’s 13th District, would continue the fight.
“You haven’t seen nothing yet,” Green said.
OTHER AWARD WINNERS
James J. Murphy, Jr., chairman and CEO of Murphy Co. received the Al Fleischer Management Award in recognition of his exemplary managerial skill.
Murphy Co. is the largest mechanical contracting firm in St. Louis and the 19th largest in the United States, designing, constructing and maintaining mechanical systems for commercial, industrial and institutional markets. The company employs more than 800 engineers, plumbers, pipefitters, sheet metal workers, boilermakers, carpenters, teamsters, laborers and office staff.
“I think the power of communications is really the most important thing that comes from PRIDE,” Murphy said. “People get to know each other as people rather than what their title is, what their organization is. They can have differing opinions yet respect each other. That’s what it’s all about.”
Francoise Lyles-Wiggins, contract compliance officer for St. Louis’ Disadvantage Business Enterprise program received the Joe Rinke Owner Award in recognition of her efforts to advance the spirit of teamwork and harmony across the St. Louis construction industry.
Wiggins reviews, approves and monitors minority and women business participation on all public works and redevelopment projects for the City of St. Louis. She also provides formal and informal workshops on city policies and procedures regarding eligibility for Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises.
BJC HealthCare received the 2012 Industry Impact Award in recognition of its use of union contractors and workers on its massive, multimillion dollar expansion over the last decade.
BJC is the largest consumer of construction in the state of Missouri, with over $200 million in annual projects.
Last month, BJC awarded three St. Louis union contractors a $1.2 billion construction project to renovate BJC’s entire 16- block Central West End campus.
Accepting the award for BJC, Greg Mohler, a member of PRIDE and vice president of BJC’s Planning, Design and Construction department spoke of the importance of collaborating with the construction industry.
“We can’t do it without all of you,” Mohler said. “Without the skilled trades people that put the bricks and mortar in place and the steel in place, the concrete and all the components that make our projects what they are, we couldn’t do it.”
In addition to the award winners above, PRIDE also recognized Ray Leuthauser, a member of Plasterers Local 3 with the PRIDE 2012 Building Community Award.
Leuthauser came to the aid of longtime local volunteer Jane Corbett last month after Corbett lost $835 earmarked for meals at Sts. Peter and Paul’s food kitchen in Soulard. Not only did Leuthauser stop and collect $330 that blew off the top of Corbett’s car, he also organized his co-workers and raised the $505 that was never recovered.
In addition to the award for Leuthauser, the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council and Sprinkler Fitters Local 268 each donated $500 for a total of $1,000 to the Sts. Peter and Paul’s meals program.